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By Nawaz Modi Singhania  

No time or energy to spare from your hectic schedule to get in shape & stay that way? Looking for an easy exit out, but with all the goodies? There's good news coming your way. Here are some highly effective, quick exercises you can perform to tone up, burn those calories, & look like a million bucks!

You can do them in the comfort of your own home, in your office, or even in the kitchen while cooking, and get the body you've always envied some others for! You don't need any special equipment or fancy gear. All you need is will power & dedication.



  The Upper Body

A great compound exercise for all the upper body muscles & the abs is the plank.

Getting onto your fours, (elbows & knees), one leg at a time get off your knees & onto your toes. Lower your hips so that your whole body is parallel to the floor. Keep your shoulders, hips, knees & heels in one straight line. When working, don't allow the butt to jut up, or the pelvic region to sag forward. Remain in this position without any movement. This is an isometric exercise, which incidentally should be avoided by hypertensives. If you find the exercise too tough, or you have a weak lower back, then allow your hips to remain slightly raised. Begin with 2 sets of 8 counts each.



  Triceps

The back of the upper arms have always been a classic problem area for most women. If this is an area that makes up unhappy too, then here's what you're looking for.

The tricep dip:With your back to a bench, get your hands on the bench behind you, so your body weight is borne by the arms. By bending and straightening the arms, let yourself rise up & dip back down. When rising, exhale, and make sure that you never lock back at the elbows. While lowering, inhale. The triceps are the muscles in the back of the upper arms & this is the area you're targeting. Start with 2 sets of 6-8 reps each.



  The Lower Body

A great compound exercise for all the lower body muscles is the squat. You'll target all the large lower limb muscles by doing this exercise. If you don't have the time, patience, or the will power to go the whole hog, then just do this one!

Stand with your feet about shoulder distance apart, feet parallel to one another. Bend your knees & squat down, bringing the quads parallel to the floor. Keep the back straight & lean forward slightly while doing this. Inhale while moving down, & exhale while coming back up into the standing position. Don't let your toes go beyond your feet while squatting down. Sit back instead, as you would on a chair. Be careful not to lock the knee joint back while standing up. Start with 2 sets of 10 each.



  The Quadriceps

This exercise targets mainly the front of your thigh. While sitting down & keeping the back straight, bend and straighten your leg out. Breathe in as you bend, & out as you extend & tighten all the muscles of the leg before repeating this. Start with 2 sets of 10 each & then switch legs.



  Outer thigh & hips

Ex. A- Lie down on your side with the lower leg bent, & the upper leg straight & flexed. Make sure you're exactly on your side; the pelvic shouldn't tilt or fall back. This is an important focus point, so keep an eye on yourself. Lift & lower this upper leg without covering more than 8"- 10". Do not let it lower more than parallel to the floor. Exhale upon lifting, & inhale as you lower. Make sure the upper body does not rock back & forth while doing this. Begin with 2 sets of 10-12 each, on each leg.

Ex. B- Sit down on the floor, with a chair in front of you. Lean back onto your palms so that the spine is reclined, in order to protect the lower back while working. Get your feet inside the legs of the chair. While keeping your legs straight, knees just slightly soft, push outward against the chair legs & then release the contraction. Breathe out while pushing, & in while relaxing. Make sure that the feet are straight, & do not turn at the ankles. Do 2 sets of 10 each, & then switch legs.



  Inner thighs

Sit down on the floor, with a chair in front of you. Lean back onto your palms in order to protect the lower back while working. Get your feet on the outside of the legs of the chair. While keeping your legs straight, push inward against the chair legs & then release the contraction. Breathe out while pushing, & in while relaxing. Make sure that the feet are straight, & do not turn at the ankles. Do 2 sets of 10 each, on each leg.



  The Abs

The ab crunch is one of the most effective and safe abdominal exercises.

To perform the basic crunch, lie with both legs bent (at about a 90 degree angle) and slightly apart. This supports and protects the back. If the crunch is done with your legs straight, you seriously risk straining the lower back. At least one, if not both legs, should be bent. Slowly lift the head and shoulders off the floor using the abdominal muscles, raising yourself upto the bottom of your shoulder blades.

Your arm position can vary the intensity of the exercise. To reduce the intensity, extend the arms forward. To increase the intensity, bring your fists up to your forehead. To further intensify this, extend the arms overhead.

Be careful not to jerk the neck up as you lift. Exhale as you lift up and inhale on the way down. Don't try hard to hold the feet down. This only pressurizes the hip flexor muscles (located where the leg meets the main body on the anterior side) and detracts from the work of the abdominals. Do 3 sets of 8-10 each to start with.



  Getting the most out of your exercises
  • Make sure all your moves are performed precisely, in a fluid & controlled manner. Sudden, jerky moves are harmful for you. Technique, body alignment & correct breathing patterns can't be emphasized enough.

  • Remember- What was performed with great difficulty yesterday, will be easier today, & a piece of cake tomorrow. This is known as the procedure of adaptation. Having reached this stage, it's important to challenge yourself further by overloading, or you won't improve any more. You'll just stagnate. While all your exercises need to be challenging & difficult, make sure that they are not impossible. If you're in agony & feel the need to stop immediately, you're working too hard. Slow down! If on the other hand, you find that what you're doing is too easy, then you're not getting anything out of the programme anymore. Step it up! Some simple ways of doing this is by increasing the number of reps first & then sets, by taking on more difficult variations of each exercise, or even by increasing the number of times you work out each week.

  • Its always necessary to combine cardiovascular activities with strength or resistance training programmes, in order to keep the fat levels low, & tone up.

  • Remember to warm up & cool down adequately with every workout. Whole body moves & stretches should be included. This will go a long way in injury prevention.

  • The sets and reps indicated above are appropriate for beginners. As you progress, load up by increasing your reps & sets slowly.

These exercises will barely take 10- 15 minutes each day. You'll notice the difference almost immediately.

Have fun. Enjoy the exercise high. The results will take care of themselves!

For a large variety of fitness classes & gym sessions, contact the writer's centre, Body Art on 022 2380- 5929/ 2380- 2602.

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